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City of Glendale - News
A Grand Transformation

From left: Arizona Department of Transportation Director Victor Mendez, Governor Janet Napolitano, Glendale Mayor Elaine Scruggs and Councilmember David Goulett. Vice Mayor Tom Eggleston, Councilmember Joyce Clarke, Councilmember Steven Frate and Councilmember Manny Martinez were also in attendance.

A Grand Transformation

Valley drivers will get a good look at the new-and-improved Grand Avenue in Glendale this week as the final piece of construction on this major West Valley roadway is completed at 59th and Glendale avenues

A visionary roadway in the 1880s. A vital link from early Phoenix to a blossoming Northwest Valley. An essential connection for commuters, families and businesses. Grand Avenue has fulfilled many purposes and driven great progress for Glendale and the Northwest Valley throughout the years. This week, the roadway enters a new phase as the final link of a major road improvement project opens up for Valley drivers.

The reconstructed stretch of Grand Avenue between 56th and Myrtle avenues in downtown Glendale, which was unveiled during a ribbon-cutting ceremony on July 6, marks the completion of a five-year, $100 million modernization of one of the Valley’s oldest and most important thoroughfares. The underpass is scheduled to officially open to traffic by Monday, July 10, and drivers on Grand Avenue will now experience an underpass under what was once a major six-point intersection at Grand, 59th and Glendale avenues.

A New Entrance to the Downtown

Beyond the underpass, the reconfigured intersection also made way for new roadway beautification projects, including trees and elaborate brick and ironwork that will greet visitors as they drive through the 59th and Glendale avenues intersection into Historic Downtown Glendale.

Other upcoming elements of the project include:

  • A pedestrian plaza at 59th and Glendale avenues
  • A drainage system, including the pump house near Glenn Drive
  • Sidewalks and driveways along Grand Avenue
  • Decorative columns and fencing atop the retaining walls along Grand Avenue
  • Lighting, signage and traffic signals
  • Paving and barrier walls on side streets that end at Grand Avenue
  • Rubberized asphalt and pavement striping

Keeping Business Booming

Maintaining an accessible Downtown Glendale throughout the construction process was a major focus for the city of Glendale. To help promote area businesses and the downtown, the city of Glendale Marketing/Communications Department designed and implemented a comprehensive marketing plan to counteract the construction activity.

A main focus was creating a positive economic spark for the downtown during the construction timeline. And research has shown increases in visitation to the downtown and retail sales tax since the plan’s implementation.

Part of that success is due to a host of special events that grew out of the construction project. That Thursday Thing, a monthly themed entertainment and shopping event for the downtown, drew visitors from all parts of the Valley and encouraged visitation despite the construction. In fact, the event was so well received that it will continue well after the construction through mid 2007.

Residents and visitors were kept up-to-date on construction details throughout the process thanks to the Web site and ADOT displays of renderings, maps and progress information at city special events. ADOT also developed a six-minute television spot for Glendale 11 that detailed the projects and encouraged shopping in the downtown area.

Those who really wanted a bird’s eye view of the underpass project were able to get one from the Views from the Top platform set up atop the city’s main parking structure at 59th and Glendale avenues.

The Grand Avenue Marketing Plan, which was funded in partnership with the city of Glendale Transportation Department and Glendale On-Board Transportation funds, included the formation of a Downtown Marketing Advisory Group (DMAG) made up of downtown business owners, who volunteered their time and expertise, and city staff. Other key partners included the Arizona Department of Transportation, Coffman Specialties, Inc. (general contractor) and Godec, Randall and Associations (mitigation liaison team).

Long-Term Benefits

While the redesigned roadway will no doubt benefit commuters as they travel above or under the various roadways, the Grand Avenue project in Glendale has given the area more than just shiny new streetlights and pristine pavement.

Additional long-term benefits to the area include:

  • New-and-improved attractive entryways to downtown Glendale
  • A safer, more efficient intersection (the six-way interchanges at the major crossroads along Grand Avenue have been a source of serious traffic congestion for many years). Delays at the Grand Avenue/Glendale Avenue/59th Avenue intersection prior to the construction were more than four minutes per vehicle during the morning rush hour, more than five minutes in the afternoon and much longer in the event of train crossings. An ADOT analysis shows that eliminating the six-way intersections reduces the morning rush-hour delays to about 40 seconds and afternoon delays to 90 seconds. The new intersection also will be attractively landscaped, providing a fresh, new approach to Historic Downtown Glendale.
  • Permanent signage to direct visitors to downtown

A Grand History

Grand Avenue has served as a vital route through Glendale’s history. A road to progress in many ways, the diagonal path was first sliced in the 1880s thanks to the visionary engineering of William J. (W.J.) Murphy. He came to Arizona from Illinois in late 1880 to build a railroad bed across rugged desert and mountains. Murphy completed construction of the Arizona Canal in 1885 and then brought in Glendale’s major transportation link. He built the diagonal roadway known as Grand Avenue and later the electric trolley line between Glendale and Phoenix, providing direct access to the northwestern portion of the Valley from Phoenix. When he exchanged right-of-way along Grand Avenue for the construction of a rail line from Prescott to Phoenix, he linked Glendale to the rest of the country.

The paving of Grand Avenue in 1919 ushered in a modern era – one in which cars and roads took on great importance. One of the most spectacular developments of the early growth period in Glendale was the paving of all unpaved Glendale streets in 1947-48. That breathtaking achievement—featured in a 1948 issue of the nationally respected Public Works magazine—gave Glendale the proud distinction of being the only city in Arizona with 100 percent of it streets paved.

CLICK HERE to see more historical photos of Grand Avenue, courtesy of the Glendale Historical Society.

Grand Avenue Construction Fast Facts

  • Nearly 113,000 cubic yards of earth were excavated and removed from the site. That's enough dirt to cover an entire football field nearly 60 feet deep.
  • The project used 11,500 square yards of Portland Cement Concrete Pavement – more than enough to pave two whole football fields.
  • More than 15,350 square yards of concrete sidewalk and driveways were poured – nearly enough concrete to pave three football fields.
  • In addition to the concrete pavement, more than 26,600 tons of asphalt was poured.
  • The new pavement was overlaid with 1,200 tons of rubberized asphalt. (For more information about rubberized asphalt, see
  • More than 17,000 linear feet (3.2 miles) of pipe was laid.
  • Nearly 13,000 linear feet (almost 2.5 miles) of concrete curb and gutter was installed.
  • More than 7,697 feet (nearly 1.5 miles) of concrete safety barrier was installed.
  • 55,580 square feet of retaining walls were built.
  • 52 manholes were replaced.
  • Landscapers will plant 175 palm trees and more than 1,000 shrubs.
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